HE’S a well-known sports massage therapist, based in Peak Performance Gym in Strabane, but Brian Coyle is also a highly respected technician in the world of cuts.
In 2015 he started his journey as a cutman – the people who tend to bleeding athletes so they can continue to compete in whatever field they are participating. And just three years later he has been named as one of just eight other cutmen, who will be responsible for the competitors at the International Amateur Youth MMA World Championships in Beijing, which takes place in early September.
It’s an ‘opportunity of a lifetime’ for the Strabane man, who hopes it’s the first of many such chances.
“It’s kind of hard to believe that someone from Strabane can get to this world stage – I’m either good at what I do or talk a good game,” he joked.
“I’ve been working away around here trying to build my reputation and then I get this opportunity of a lifetime to go and see a country I never thought I’d get the chance to see.
“I hope this is the first of many opportunities at this level. The senior championships are in Bahrain in October, so we’ll see how things go, but it’s not that easy to get away when you have a wife and three kids!”
The work of the cutman isn’t just restricted to tending to injuries during fights. Brian takes care of the soccer players of Foyle Wanderers and Dergview, and has assisted medical teams at a wide variety of events, but it’s the MMA where he has primarily made his name, helping James Gallagher and while working at many big events across Ireland, preparing athletes before the action, tending to them during and helping them afterwards.
“The cutman is the guy, first and foremost, who works alongside the paramedics and doctors to ensure fighter safey,” he explained.
“We would wrap the fighters hands before they fight, we vaseline their face before they go into the cage and if they are cut, bleeding or have swelling, we would go in between the rounds and attempt to stop the bleeding.
“Sometimes you go in and the cut is so bad that the doctor has no option but to stop the fight. Our job is to stop the bleeing – the doctor and the referee are the only people who can stop the fight, we have no input to that.”
And while he has a long-held interest in Jui-Jitsu, training at SBG Strabane, his entry into the cut game didn’t happen until 2015 and purely by chance.
“It was while volunteering at a kickboxing tournament in 2015 that I saw cutmen in action and I started scouring the internet after that, Googleing away until I eventually found a guy who works for the UFC who took me through my licensing and taught me how to do it!,” he explained.
“I’ve worked for all the major organisations around Ireland. I’ve worked for the likes of Chaos down in Derry where Conor McGregor started, John Kavanagh’s Once Were Warriors and Clan Wars, which was on the BBC.
“I do pitch-side physio for football teams like Foyle Wanderers, Dergview and I also look after James Gallagher, he’s a good lad!
“It has opened a lot of doors for me so far. I have got the chance to go and experience things I never thought I would get the chance to experience.
“And to think, it all came from a chance decision to volunteer at an event I wasn’t even supposed to be at!,” he concluded.
Posted: 12:48 pm August 17, 2018